The Administration’s FY 2018 budget request continues its assault on rural communities by slashing USDA’s Rural Development programs, said Greg Fogel, Policy Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The President’s budget request zeroes out funding for numerous rural business, housing, and infrastructure programs, including: the Value-Added Producer Grants program, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, Rural Cooperative Development Grants, Intermediary Relending Program, and Rural Housing Assistance, among others. It also proposes deep cuts to the Community Facilities program, Rural Water and Wastewater Program, and slashes USDA salaries and expenses that provide the staffing needed to effectively administer these programs.

Taken together with the Administration’s recently announced plan to eliminate the Rural Development Mission Area and Under Secretary through a departmental reorganization, this budget is a gut punch to America’s farmers and rural communities.”

In addition to targeting rural development, the budget request also includes over $100 million in cuts to the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – one of USDA’s core research, education, and extension agencies – including a 44 percent cut to NIFA’s integrated activities.

It remains to be seen exactly which NIFA programs will be cut. However, what we’ve seen so far have seen is extremely concerning.

The budget request also appears to limit both farm bill conservation program spending and discretionary conservation operations funding, which funds conservation planning assistance for farmers and ranchers nationwide. Any proposed cuts to conservation assistance are shortsighted and not reflective of the needs and demands of farmers and ranchers around the country.

The one bright spot in the President’s budget proposal is that it is just that – a proposal. We will work closely with our 118 members across the country and with Congress to ensure that funding legislation in FY 2018 doesn’t abandon farmers and rural Americans.

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